November 18-20, 2016 | University of Alberta
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conference_present_year: 2016

Shifting Gears

Transitioning to the Future Economy

Parkland’s 20th annual conference will explore the many transitions that are taken place in Alberta, Canada, and the world in public services, the economy, the environment, the nature of work, and many other areas. The way we perceive and understand government, the economy, and society has changed dramatically over the last two decades, and with that change comes the need for us to challenge ourselves to consider public policy alternatives. New governments in Alberta and Ottawa provide an opportunity for progressives to propose and promote alternatives in ways we have not been able to for some time. The conference will provide a space to discuss and formulate what those alternatives might look like in future.

Register for the 2016 Fall Conference » 


Full Conference

Parkland Supporters: $140 / $100 Low Income
Regular: $190 / $125 Low Income

Keynote only

Tickets: $20 / $15 Low Income

Single sessions

Tickets: $15 / $10 Low Income


Opening Keynote

Marilyn Waring

Thirty Years Later: Are We Still Counting for Nothing?

with Marilyn Waring (via Skype)

Note: Due to a health issue that has her under doctor’s orders not to travel, Marilyn Waring will no longer be delivering her Friday keynote address in person, but rather by a live video feed via Skype from New Zealand.

Marilyn Waring will reflect on the influence of the measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and changes and strategies emerging since 1989, the year her classic critique, Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth, was published. What has been critical and radical, what has been sadly strategically astray, and what has added to the destructive power of this overrated indicator?

Marilyn Waring is professor of public policy, AUT University, New Zealand. She is an internationally-renowned feminist political economist, human rights activist, and development consultant. Her best known work, Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women Are Worth, was the subject of the best-selling documentary made by the National Film Board of Canada, Who’s Counting: Marilyn Waring On Sex, Lies and Global Economics.

Closing Keynote

John Ralston Saul

The Canadian Economy: Denial, Delusion, or Cutting Edge?

with John Ralston Saul

It is time to turn away from the old models, the old for or against mass extraction, the old raw materials dependency. At what point do we grow up and embrace more sophisticated, complex ideas of value added? What is the point of all these business schools, economists, and advisors if we remain stuck in the same old models of rough exploitation?

John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist and novelist. Often regarded as Canada's leading public intellectual, he has been declard a "prophet" by TIME magazine and is included in the prestigious Utne Reader's list of the world's 100 leading thinkers and visionaries. His 14 books have been translated into 28 languages in 37 countries.


Eriel Deranger
Saturday Morning Plenary

Recognizing Indigenous Rights and Creating Climate Solutions

with Eriel Deranger

Eriel Deranger will highlight the current climate crisis faced by Indigenous peoples of Alberta and the moral and legal obligation of governments to work with Indigenous peoples in building progressive and aggressive climate change solutions. The rights and knowledge of Indigenous peoples are internationally recognized and affirmed by the Canadian Constitution, Treaty and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). These rights have also been recognized within the international climate agreement, the Paris Accord, and highlight the urgent need to build climate change solutions that include Indigenous peoples.

Marjorie Cohen
Saturday Afternoon Plenary

From Low to High Gear: How Including Gender Can Rev-up the Debates About Climate Change and Counter-Austerity Policies

with Marjorie Cohen

Two major issues for the future are dealing with climate change and meeting the real needs of people. This talk will show how "austerity" policies both damage the economy and allow limited spaces for dealing with climate change, even among progressive groups. The intent will be to show how including a gendered analysis of the problems of both climate change and the economy means that different kinds of solutions can be envisioned.

Ryan Meili
Saturday Afternoon Plenary

A New Frame: Looking Upstream for a Healthier Society

with Ryan Meili

The future economy should serve the needs of people. The best way to measure whether it is doing so is to look at the quality of our lives. The factors that have the biggest effect on our health and wellbeing are income, education, employment, housing, food security, and the wider environment. The upstream approach uses these social determinants of health as the road map to reach the destination of the best health outcomes. This new frame can reach across political lines by establishing a common goal and a novel approach to political and economic decisions.

Larry Brown
Sunday Morning Plenary

Rethinking Think-tanks

with Larry Brown

Progressive research and policy organizations, sometimes generically called think-tanks, can play a crucial role in the political life of a nation. We can strongly challenge attempts to change the political discourse in ways that only serve to divide our communities, socially and economically. The massive funding of wealthy Conservative think-tanks to promote a right-wing agenda in the US is a prime example. Finally, we need to think about the role progressive research and policy institutes and think-tanks can play, especially in a post-Harper era.